Sydney Beach Homes
Sydney Beach Homes


If you have a block of land just waiting for your dream home, a dated property you’d like to knock down and re-build, a home that needs a little TLC and a new lease of life with a full renovation – or even if you’re not exactly sure which way to go, and would just like some advice, we’d love to hear from you, and we’re here help.


If you have a block of land just waiting for your dream home, a dated property you’d like to knock down and re-build, a home that needs a little TLC and a new lease of life with a full renovation – or even if you’re not exactly sure which way to go, and would just like some advice, we’d love to hear from you, and we’re here help.

When buying to renovate, it’s the problem that all property purchasers dread discovering: foundation problems. If you are buying a fixer-upper, issues with the foundations of your property can be expensive and time consuming to renovate – worse, it can make your property unstable and dangerous. When looking to invest in an existing property it’s worthwhile doing your homework to ensure you’re not buying a money pit. At Sydney Beach Homes we’ve seen and heard many stories of people buying to renovate and commencing work on their property, only to discover some serious issues. If you’re concerned that a property you’re looking to purchase could be sitting on problematic foundations, the following warning signs should help.


  1. Cracked brickwork
    One of the biggest tell-tale signs of foundation problems is cracks in the brickwork of your house. These are usually much deeper than superficial cracks and tend to be wider at the top and narrower at the bottom. You can find out more about this particular issue in the article, from SPI Property Inspections – Cracking: Is My House About To Fall Down?
  2. Cracked floors
    Cracks in your floors is another sign to watch out for. These cracks can appear anywhere and may differ in size and shape, but a cracked floor nearly always indicates that your foundations are affected by settlement. Minor cracks may not be a problem, however it’s always worth investigating further.
  3. Windows and doors not fitting correctly
    This is often missed as a sign of foundation problems as they don’t appear to be directly related, but if your fittings are gaping in their frames or are jammed shut, it is possible that the pressure of your faulty foundations is pushing the brickwork apart or together, causing your fittings to misalign. Every new house build has to ‘dry out’, meaning there will always be some movement – but if you see a significant movement, that should ring alarm-bells.
  4. Chimney leaning away from the house
    If the property has a chimney and it’s leaning away from the building, this is another indication that you have problems with your home’s foundations. Note that this is only true when the chimney is leaning away from the house – a chimney leaning towards the house is more indicative of a structural problem (which could be just as bad).
  5. Sinking concrete
    The concrete around your home can also show signs that your foundations are problematic. In particular, if the concrete is starting to sink or sag. You may be able to notice this by sight, but another sign to look for is water pooling on the concrete. As the water pools it can cause further cracking.
  6. Poor air quality
    Is there a smell inside? You may have noticed that the quality of air in a property isn’t great. This can be caused by a number of factors that go hand-in-hand with faulty foundations. For example, if your foundations have shifted and caused cracks in your walls or gaping around your windows and doors, your home may be letting moisure in. This may cause condensation, damp and mould growth which can cause coughs, sore throats and chest infections.


If you’re concerned that a property you own, or are considering buying is sitting on faulty foundations, we highly recommend having a detailed inspection.

It is simply not worth taking the risk!

If you need help organising an inspection, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to assist.

A project schedule might be the last thing from your mind as you fantasise about your dream home, but if you are planning your new build or renovation and you’re in the process of sourcing a builder, a sure-fire way to assess whether a potential candidate is a professional building company is to request a project schedule.

It’s worth knowing before we go any further, that jobs with no schedule of works take 33% longer to complete than those working from an agreed project schedule

If a builder tells you they don’t produce schedules or that it is unnecessary, our advice would be to steer clear.

And don’t be tempted to accept the promise of a project schedule being provided after you have signed the contract. You need to sign your contract on the basis of an agreed schedule and quotation. If not, you leave yourselves exposed to wildly underestimated costs, disappointment in standards of finishes and specifications accounted for, and significant extensions on your build timeline.

Once you have found a builder that does supply a schedule of works, it’s worth checking their ability to stick to agreed schedules and request references from their last three jobs.

A project schedule might seem like a small thing, but this single item really separates the men from the boys.

In fact less than 15% of builders actually prepare job schedules.

The importance of a project schedule, by Sydney Beach Homes, custom home builders

So why is it that so many builders decline to provide this critical element of the planning process?

Well, firstly, it takes a significant amount of time to create a comprehensive schedule, detailing the hundreds of tasks in a typical build, and most builders will simply not dedicate the man-hours required. Combined with providing an accurate quotation, this can take between 50 and 100 hours to complete, depending on the scope of your project.

No builder can honestly provide an accurate quote without spending the necessary time creating a full schedule of works, so you are likely to find your quote is unreliable and more close to a ‘best guess’.

Secondly, most builders are simply not trained to do this kind of thing. If they have been in trades all of their working life, they may not have had any experience of project planning and project management. A professional builder will likely have come from a more corporate environment – perhaps a bigger building firm, or commercial building company, where detailing, planning and managing every job is second nature.

A good building company will use project management software, into which they enter every aspect of the job schedule. This will then generate auto notifications to all parties detailing actions that need to be taken by a specific date. This will also include any selections or decisions that you are required to make, keeping decisions on time and avoiding variation charges.

Your selection choices should also be linked to the schedule, so that you know exactly what finishes, fixtures and fittings are included in your quotation. If this is not buttoned down at the outset, you may find your expectations and what your builder actually provides and devastatingly misaligned – again leading to additional costs to upgrade to something you thought was included in your quotation.

What to look for in your project schedule

Ok, it’s one thing to accept your builder needs to supply one, but how do you know if it’s worth the paper it’s written on?

Here are the things your schedule should cover:

Full timeline with hours/days dedicated to each stage of the build and each individual task.

Assessment of contingency time allocated to cover any unexpected difficulties that may arise, or delays due to inclement weather.

Details of how the schedule will be managed and how you will be kept informed of progress and alerted to any actions you are required to take.

In summary, never be afraid to ask for these things up front.

You may find your builder will request a fee to provide your schedule and full quotation, and in fact, this is the best way to ensure a successful build so don’t let that put you off.

Read our blog on this topic, which should be considered in conjunction with job scheduling.

We hope this helps you to achieve a trouble-free and enjoyable building project.

To explore how we work at Sydney Beach Homes check out our 7 Step Building Process.

For an informal chat about your project, get in touch.

When is a beach home not a beach home?

Well, arguably, when it’s a shimmering monument to the ultimate in sleek  modern minimalism.

Of course, a property like this may will be a beach home in every literal sense if it is in fact a home and it’s located by the beach.

It’s interesting, that the phrase ‘beach home’ generally conjures up in our mind’s eye, everything from shabby beach-chic to Hamptons style classicism, but the trend in pristine, modernist structures has probably now overtaken the quintessential beach home style.

So how do you go about creating your minimalist haven by the sea?

The first challenge is wear and tear, from the less than forgiving coastal elements. We expect to see some worn decking and even a little distressed weatherboard paint on a classic beach house – or at least we accept it as part of the beach-life charm. Sand in the home can be tolerated, surfboards adorning the veranda is all part of the picture.

But none of this sits well in a high-gloss environment, brimming with expensive finishes.

Your builder will be able to advise you of new developments in exterior building materials that are built to withstand the harsh elements of our coastline, while maintaining desired aesthetics.

contemporary home style Sydney Beach Homes

Bringing the outside in, while keeping it out.

There’s a conundrum! When building a beach home like this, we need to pay particular attention to doors and windows, seeking out specialist materials and highly effective seals and closures.

A trademark feature of the contemporary home, especially when you have expansive ocean views is the acres of glass frontage that reveal the coastline in all its incredible beauty and bring it directly into your home.

For these situations, self-cleaning glass is a must, combined with smart glass systems, which allow you to control the amount of heat and light that comes into your home throughout the day. Read more about this in our blog on green technologies.

If you’re living by the ocean you won’t want to keep your home hermetically sealed to avoid sand getting into your living spaces, so work with your builder and architect to take prevailing winds into account when planning your major openings and external space.

Contemporary homes also tend to feature sleek, and often shiny, premium finishes, like polished marble, metals and gloss carpentry  – none of which respond well to the abrasive effect of sand and salt in the air. Happily there are many new and exciting finished to consider that look every bit as impressive, but will maintain their looks for much longer. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate any polished finishes altogether, but use them strategically, knowing they will need more care and attention to keep looking pristine.

You can never have enough storage

Never underestimate the amount of storage a contemporary home requires to maintain a minimalist image. Your builder and designer can help you plan heaps of concealed storage into every room to keep the clutter at bay and create that feeling of serenity a clean and clear environment brings.

If your contemporary home is by the beach, you will need to increase that storage requirement considerably and pay particular attention to the position of your storage.

External storage by every entrance is a must to encourage everyone to shed sandy shoes, towels and all manner of beach paraphanaila before they enter the house. Wet rooms at the entrances, or outdoor shower rooms are also great for making sure that only people free of salt and sand enter the house. In winter, these storage areas double up nicely as boot rooms / cloakrooms.

contemporary interior style Sydney Beach Homes


Whether your beach home is classic or contemporary in styling, the same basic décor principles apply.

Using a single colour palette throughout the home will make it feel bigger, more open and expansive, and allows rooms and spaces to flow naturally into one another. That doesn’t mean every room will look the same. If you create a palette of 6 to 8 shades, you can turn the dials up and down on different shades to suit the purpose of each room without compromising the flow of your colour scheme.

You can also bring in additional highlights of colour seasonally, with accessories to freshen your look from time to time.

Clever use of texture is also a great way of adding dimension to your home and there are some amazing three-dimensional finishes available now in tiling, wallpaper and decorative panelling.

Taking inspiration for your colours from the environment around your home works brilliantly for beach homes and really helps create synergy between your property and its location. Take photographs of your surroundings at different times of the day and use colour charts to create your palette by matching to the tones of your photos. For softer palettes use shots taken in the early morning or evening, go for mid morning for something more dazzling, or use the landscape in winter for a more muted scheme. If darker, more moody palettes are your thing, sunset shots will help you produce some amazing colour combinations.

Light and bright generally works brilliantly in beach homes, but it’s always to good to have some darker tones in there too, to use sparingly throughout, or more boldly in areas where you want to create a cosy, more intimate feel.


Your outdoor spaces and landscaping should reflect the minimalist feeling of your interior.  Gardens will need to maintain a manicured look, so be careful with planting and seek advice from your landscape gardener. An unruly mass of tumbling and abundant blooms may look amazing in a cottage garden, but will look incongruous with the sleek modernity of your building.

Again, explore available materials with your builder and landscape gardener, to create a scheme that is both beautiful and manageable.

So in conclusion, can a contemporary home ever be a true beach home? Absolutely!

Talk to us about your vision for your modern masterpiece. 

So, you’ve made the decision to build a brand new home – congratulations, by the way – from our experience it will be an amazing journey and the end result will give you immense pleasure and pride.

Buying a block of land is the first step in building your new custom home, and this can be more challenging than you might expect.

There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a building block, which could have huge implications on the cost of your build, the design options open to you and even the energy efficiency of your new home.

It’s an obvious point to make, but blocks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and with a wide variety of available amenities.

In the end, like buying a house, it comes down to personal choice – sometimes you just get a good feeling about a particular block and need to navigate all the eventualities it may present.

That said, if you have a budget in mind that you need to stick with, you’ll need to be aware of how certain features can impact the cost.


Here are a few tips to consider when searching for your dream parcel of paradise.


Location, Location, Location

Think about how important it is for you to be close to shops, cafes & restaurants, schools, recreation facilities, children’s amenities etc.

Being in walking distance will save you a drive and you’re more likely to feel part of the community. You may think you’ll never sell your beautiful new home, but you really never know how you might feel in the future, so considering resale value is still important. Proximity to the aforementioned services definitely adds value, so long as your building block is not too close to any busy main roads, which can be off-putting to potential buyers.

Some people love corner blocks, but be aware that others may have concerns about privacy and security.

Any block with views of the ocean, bushland or parks will inevitably be more desirable and will come with a premium price tag.

Practically, you also need to ascertain whether your block is prone to flooding or bushfires, which will involve your builder using specialist materials and building techniques – again, adding to the cost of your build.

Sourcing a block with an existing property can be a good idea too – you can take advice from your builder on demolition costs.

A couple of advantages could be:

You can live in the existing dwelling, or rent it out to tenants while you work on your plans and DA application, saving precious funds for the build.

If the block is large enough it might be possible to live on site while your home is being built, before demolishing the old building.


Size Matters

It’s harder than it looks to judge how much house you can fit onto a plot and just how big your home needs to be.

Getting around a few open homes is great for design inspiration and also to get a good feel for space and how it feels.

An experienced builder or architect will be able to help you to realise your vision and explore how you and your family live day to day, to ensure the space fits perfectly with your lifestyle.


Which way?

Outlook and orientation is paramount when selecting your building block. Generally, you’ll want to have your living space, outdoor entertaining and pool area facing north to capture the natural sunlight and flood your home with light.

Good orientation is probably one of the most important factors in choosing a block.

You should always aim to have your living and outdoor entertaining areas facing a Northerly aspect. Not only will this create an airy and elegant living space, but will aid the energy efficiency of your home.

Read our blog on green technologies to explore more ways of leveraging the power on the sun, while keeping your home cool in the heat of the day.


All rise

The flatter the block the cheaper it will be for you to build on, though Sydney is teeming with sloping blocks that present more of a challenge.

A steep block can make for a spectacular architectural masterpiece, often with stunning views. The result can be pretty impressive, but be warned that it can add many thousands of dollars to your build.

Clever design can utilise the slope effectively and also give you an increased footprint, so there are certainly advantages, but they come at a cost.

The biggest cost in this scenario is likely to be excavation and the associated necessity of retaining walls.

On the subject of excavation, you will need to get a soil test on the block you are looking to buy. This is not expensive and could save you thousands of dollars if it shows anything in the ground that could be a cause for concern. Large rocks on the site can add significantly to the cost of excavations, and amazingly, you could find yourselves with ‘problem soil’, which can affect the foundations and materials you need to use in the build.


Lighting up

We all, generally do our home and block viewings in the daylight, but it’s a really good idea to visit at different times of the day to assess how the sun travels across the property – and more importantly at night.

How good is the street lighting? What about the position of streetlamps? Light pollution may or may not be an issue for you, but it’s best to avoid unwelcome surprises, once the house is complete.

Consider, also the effect of car headlights if your block is facing a T junction, or positioned on a bend, which can be immensely irritating.

Understanding how your building block looks in the dark, will also help you with the planning of your garden lighting scheme.


What’s going on?
If you’re purchasing a block on a significant sized subdivision, be sure to check out what future plans the developer might have for facilities other than housing.

If your desired block is in a built-up area and you’ve noticed some large homes or small commercial buildings are starting to be replaced by new apartment blocks, this could be due to the area being re-zoned for development, which could start to feel overpopulated in the not too distant future.

You may find some building blocks come with quite restrictive covenants. While these are in place in the main to ensure good quality building, some guidelines can be pretty onerous and again, add cost to your build.

Check to see if there are any easements on the block you are looking to buy.

An easement is a section of land registered on your property title, which gives someone the right to use your land for access – a shared driveway, for example – or access to the waterfront. Easements are not necessarily a problem, but they can have an impact on the design of your home and could in-turn affect the build cost.

A good property lawyer will be able to perform all the appropriate searches for your block and point out any contractual peculiarities before you commit to a purchase.


Get connected

If your passion is for a small acreage site, you may need to check your building block is connected to all the services you’re going to need. If not, first make sure services such as sewerage, gas and water are available at all in the area, and research what alternatives are open to you if you needed.

If services are available in the area, it could still be an expensive exercise to bring them into your property.


Follow your heart…

So, assuming we haven’t put you off completely, we hope you’ll feel a little more informed and confident you know what to look out for.

In the end, your heart will likely win when it comes to choosing your perfect block, but at least with some inside knowledge, this is one love affair you’ll be going into with your eyes wide open.


Whether you are building a brand new home, or thinking about a significant renovation, it would be smart to consider some of these product innovations to help cut your ongoing utility costs and enjoy a greener home. They may not all be new, but they are improving in efficiency all the time and if you’ve considered any of these in the past, it might be time to look again.

Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Thinking ahead, a few years, these may well become a vital ingredient of our homes, making us self-sufficient and in the meantime, is simply the right thing to do to preserve water as much as we are able.

Harvesting systems vary in cost from hundreds of dollars to thousands, but will likely reduce your mains water usage by up to 50%.

In fact, many people are able to manage exclusively on harvested rainwater.

Landscape tanks provide an incredibly discreet and attractive solution to water storage and a greener home, building the tanks into retaining walls, garden fences and even pool surrounds as an integral part of your landscaped garden. This allows you to build in a significant amount of water storage that no-one would ever guess was there. They can be painted or rendered to match any external décor finishes.

And these tanks are designed to last over 100 years, so once installed you’ll never need to worry about them again.

Landscape water tank harvesting

Harness the Power of The Sun

Solar is much cheaper than it once was – and is more affordable to install.

Energy Australia now offers solar systems on a 5 year interest free payment plan with no upfront fees – and most systems come with a 25 year performance warranty.

Battery prices are still expensive at around $10000, so the payback will take an estimated 15 years, but if you are building or renovating, that’s a small amount in the scheme of things that will save significant running costs immediately.

Efficiencies in this technology have improved considerably, so you don’t need to worry if your property is not north facing, as this will likely only mean a reduction of 10 – 15% of your energy production.

Solar Energy in your new build

Dynamic Glass

We’ve always been fond of glass in Australia, and its use has extended to flooring, walkways, and internal walls, as a strong, and green building material. Dynamic Glass is coated with electrochromic ceramic, made up of multiple thin layers of metal oxide, which tints on command via a mobile app or adjusts intuitively in response to outdoor conditions. A combination of predictive weather feeds and real time sensors anticipate and respond to changes. By admitting natural daylight and rejecting unwanted glare, dynamic glass creates a comfortable and regulated indoor climate – and is estimated to provide around a 20% energy saving.

Dynamic glass in your new build

Movable Walls

Movable walls have become a recognised element for creating a greener home, maximising space and view, and helping optimise floor plans, square meterage and energy use. Initially employed in small apartments to offer home owners a more flexible space, they have developed to impact the design and building process itself, facilitating a reduction in the footprint of a new homes or commercial buildings alike.

Designers have become very taken with the concept and it’s easy to see why when you see some of the stunningly creative applications in evidence these days. It’s a pretty cool way to live, being able to transform your home to suit your mood, social occasion or accommodation of guests.

Building storage into the walls themselves gives a great illusion of space too and eliminates the need for excessive furniture.

And having the ability to cosy up into small rooms that take little heating in winter means great energy savings too.

Moveable walls in your new build home

Living Roofs

The ultimate manifestation of a greener home, green, or living roofs look amazing, insulate buildings, soak up storm water, reducing urban runoff, and come with the bonus of environmental benefits and create a habitat for wildlife.

The vegetation also filters pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air, helping to lower allergies and respiratory problems such as asthma.

Another benefit for city dwellers is the inherent sound-proofing.

Costs vary, but a living roof is more affordable than you might think, and green roofing can actually extend the life of a roof by over 200%.

Experiments in the US and Canada report a 26% reduction in heat loss in winter and the same reduction in cooling requirements in summer.

Green walls seem to have caught on in Australia a little faster than living roofs, but we’d love to see more of them around.

A green roof for your new build home

If you’d like to build a greener home, talk to Sydney Beach Homes to explore how we can help transform your home into an energy-efficient haven, or design and build a brand new green home, incorporating these elements and more.

Call us any time, or drop by the office for a cuppa. Green tea, of course 🙂

So great to get some more amazing photos of our work on this Woolahra project from our friends at Lime Photography.

This incredibly spacious apartment needed a full refurbishment, including significant remedial work, requiring some major demolition of internal walls and installation of structural steel to create airy, open-plan spaces.

At a generous 900 square metres, this spectacular apartment is the size of a large house, with three living spaces, dining room, kitchen and kitchenette, laundry, 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, and a double garage. It’s all very impressive, but the star of the show in this property has to be its vast roof-top entertaining deck with stunning panoramic views over Woolahra and Double Bay.

Woolahra renovation by custom builders, Sydney Beach Homes


Working on an apartment of this scale is always going to impact upon neighbours, especially those immediately below. We always aim to minimise noise and work with neighbours like this as much as possible to avoid too much inconvenience for them. In fact, in this case, we were invited to carry out some building work to the apartment below as well. Of course we’d like to think that was entirely down to our charm and careful management of the situation, though we’re guessing they were also of the mind “If you can’t beat them, join them!”

Access to the site was also problematic, being located on a very busy Woolahra street with limited parking available. And we had the challenge of getting all materials required up onto the rooftop area. For this we used a Telehandler, shifting payloads of a ton at a time to and from the rooftop, while employing some strict traffic control on the street.

Another challenge was that both our client and the designer, Nic Graham of Nic Graham & Associates, were located overseas, so all project management details and communications needed to be relayed via email.


The specification for this stunning apartment were exceptional, requiring careful restoration and repair of existing parquetry flooring, beautiful bespoke bathrooms – all six of them, custom cabinetry throughout, and extensive rooftop landscaping.

We also installed a pretty snazzy hi-tech micro-processor controlled lighting and energy management system called C-Bus. This facilitates the configuration of zones in the home for automated lighting, adjusting intensity according to natural light levels.

Marble was used extensively in all the bathrooms, with polyurethane joinery, antique mirror glass and custom vanities.

Other highlights were the Blackbutt flooring, with underfloor heating, stained almost black with ‘Black Japan’ woodstain’ – and some exquisite hand-made lighting fixtures from Beeswax USA.

We are delighted to have been involved in this beautiful Woolahra project and equally delighted to receive these photos to share with you.

What a stunner!

Woolahra renovation interior by custom builders, Sydney Beach Homes

So, you’re ready to build the house of your dreams and its time to find the right builder – you might expect to get free quotes before you appoint a builder, but read on to discover why this is not a good idea…

It’s tempting to put the job out to tender, but although it feels counterintuitive, you will most likely save money in the long run by going with a builder that charges for their quotes.

Here’s why.

Firstly, let’s take a step back. It is, of course, a good idea to speak to a few builders and discuss your project in detail to find out whether your aspirations meet your budget. From your builder’s perspective, this would be an estimate. They will simply be confirming that your top-line requirements (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, construction style and kinds of finishes) are achievable within your desired budget. This should not cost you anything as it doesn’t require any detailed work or calculations form your builder. This is a ball-park estimate and confirmation of your outline budget.

From here, it’s best to work closely with the builder you have established the greatest affinity with and request a formal quotation.

Be wary of any builders who are offering free quotes – projects that start this way almost always end up costing much more.

It takes builders a significant amount of time to create an accurate and detailed quote – probably between 40 and 100 hours, depending on the scope of the job, involving a number of professional third party services, which also come with fees attached, and the compilation of detailed schedules. It can cost your builder thousands of dollars.

Chances are, therefore, with a free quotation, that it will not have had the required amount of time spent to ensure it is completely comprehensive and accurate. That’s when the additional costs come rolling in throughout the project and could put your budget under considerable pressure.

If you find you are handed a one or two-page ‘quotation’, that should set alarm bells ringing. A professional quotation should be a very meaty document – around 30 or 40 pages, fully specifying every aspect of your project, including materials, inclusions, reference drawings, labour, and full project schedule. Free quotes cannot possibly provide you with the accuracy and assurance you really need before commencing a build.

When interviewing builders, ask for their quotation fees up-front to help you make the right decision.

You can trust a professional builder to charge accurately and appropriately for their services and rest assured they won’t be looking for ways down the line to recoup initial losses. You can also rest assured that they will not be looking to make money on the quotation process – simply to cover basic costs.

Follow this process and you will enjoy a strong working relationship with first-rate professionals and you will find the whole project goes smoothly from the outset without any unwelcome surprises.

If you’re thinking of building your own home any time soon, download our FREE Essential Guide to building your dream home and our Pre-Contract Checklist.

Just follow this link and submit your name and email address to access…

Sydney Beach Homes Essential Guide and Pre-contract Checklist

The humble Granny Flat has been reinvented as the ultimate garden studio and has blossomed to become one of the most popular additions to the family home.

The ever-rising property market has certainly stimulated an increase in renovations and additions in recent years as the affordability of moving and upsizing has been under considerable pressure. At the same time, families have gradually had to change their lifestyles to accommodate more family members for longer. Young adults simply cannot get a foot on the property ladder and are opting to remain in the nest longer as they strive to save for a deposit. To give their mature offspring a little more privacy and independence, families with some space in their yards have opted to create garden studios.

Studios are fully self-contained dwellings – often of stunning contemporary design and high quality finish, adding significant value to the overall property. There are some restrictions involved, governing the building of garden studios. Rules vary slightly by state, but as a guide, your block should be a minimum of 450sq m and the studio itself must be limited to a floor area of 50sq m.

A beautiful garden studio has so many potential uses. As well as a haven for grown children, the studio can also be used for its historical role as home to elderly relatives, a home office or workshop, fitness studio, music room, a guest suite, or as an additional revenue stream, renting either to long-term tenants or as an occasional let through Airbnb or similar.

Whether you plan to build your studio as a single or double level stand-alone unit, an adjoining addition to the main house, or an apartment above a garage, it’s important to maintain a separate entrance – especially if you are planning to let the property. Also make sure that your design protects the privacy of both dwellers – in the main residence and the new studio. You don’t want to feel closed in and overlooked.

The trick is to make sure your new studio is in-keeping with the main home, presents a high quality addition, is easily accessible and doesn’t impact too much on the outdoor space.

So let’s talk about value.

What is the likely return on your investment?

Firstly, it’s a good idea to do your homework on property prices in your area – especially noting those with studios compared to those without, to make sure you don’t over capitalise.

You must make sure your building is fully compliant and that you keep all of your paperwork safe for when you decide to sell.

Property valuers estimate that a quality garden studio can add a premium of more than 20% to your sale price.

That said, if your home is in need of modernising itself, the studio will have less of an impact on the overall value. The rule of thumb here is to spend the money first on your main home before investing in outbuildings.

Principal Broker of Zippy Financial Group, Louisa Sanghera endorses the notion of adding values and tells us, “Home owners can achieve a return on investment of around 20%, and change a negatively geared investment into a positively geared investment, helping to pay their mortgage off faster – and facilitate the purchase of further investment properties”.

Louisa advises “There are two common ways to finance a new garden studio – the first is to use equity available in the current property upon which the studio will be constructed – and the second is to utilise a construction loan. Getting a Valuation Report is a good place to start, which takes both current market values and a likely bank valuation into account.”

Arial shot of Freshwater garden studio by Sydney Beach Homes

Assuming your home is up to scratch, your studio will not only attract a higher sale price but will likely have a positive effect on how quickly your property sells.

Should you decide to rent your space it could net you between $200 and $600 per week, depending on location and the quality of the building – which also makes a great selling point when marketing your home. The potential of rental income could be the difference between a buyer being able to afford your property or not.

Craig Blake, Real Estate professional of over 25 years, currently with Parnell Partners in Frenchs Forrest reports, “Depending on the size and specification of the studio, home-owners could expect to attract rental incomes of up to $875 per week”.

Craig also advises that “Some older home-owners, looking to downsize have opted to build a garden studio, which they have then moved into, renting out their main home”. Which is another innovative solution we hadn’t considered.

All things considered, it looks like Granny Flats (sorry, Garden Studios) are the way to go, if you have a little space to spare on your block.

And finally, here’s one we made earlier…

We created this new build, 2 level studio apartment, designed by Molina Architects, as a separate dwelling to the existing home on a large block, demolishing an old garage to create the space. In this case, the studio was built to accommodate the family’s older son, but was designed to attract maximum interest as a source of rental income for the family in the future.

Talk to your local planners for more information, or talk to us at Sydney Beach Homes and we’ll be more than happy to explore some options with you.

Garden studio in Freshwater by Sydney Beach Homes

Our thanks to contributors:

Louisa Sanghera, Zippy Financial Group

Craig Blake, Parnell & Partners